When you signed up to become a web designer, I’m guessing you thought about how amazing it would be to design websites, make great money and work when/where you wanted. But you may not have thought too much about how important sales would be in order to make that dream a reality.
If you find sales to be daunting and un-fun, don’t worry; you’re not alone! Luckily, a few strategies and a shift in the way you present your services to leads can turn the whole thing around and make sales, not so bad 🙂
My guest, CEO and Founder of Kanopi Studios, Anne Stefanyk is a true marketing and sales pro and the leader of one of the most legitimate web design/digital marketing agencies I know; having just surpassed hiring their 60th team member.
In this episode, she shares her top strategies for sales for both web design freelancers and solopreneurs along with full blown agencies. While some strategies work for both, often different tactics can gain a better ROI depending on your set up.
My personal favorite thought from this talk? The “3 C’s”
Connect —> Converse —> Convert
Most of us seem to want to connect then immediately convert (sell something.) But you cannot afford to look past the all-important “middle C” of conversing with your lead. Find out more and how to do so to land more clients in this interview!
In this episode:
03:46 – Greeting to Anne
07:43 – Aware but not “in”
07:53 – Qualification process
10:24 – Most fundamental
12:12 – Tracking leads
14:17 – Existing network
17:53 – Creating prospects
18:25 – Using LinkedIn
23:01 – Authentically human
26:36 – Clear personas
31:28 – Black and white
33:13 – Dream of cold call
35:14 – Create sustainability
39:50 – Time to add sales
43:39 – Networking opportunities
45:58 – Lessons learned
51:55 – Since the beginning
56:24 – Butterfly not required
59:18 – Serve over sell
59:24 – Do good work
1:02:42 – Love to love clients
1:05:42 – Owning blunders
1:09:19 – Anne’s connection
1:11:10 – Preparation
Connect with Anne:
Featured links mentioned:
- Book by Susan Cain – Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
- Book by John Ruhlin – Giftology: The Art and Science of Using Gifts to Cut Through the Noise, Increase Referrals, and Strengthen Retention
- Book by Mike Michalowicz – Fix This Next: Make the Vital Change That Will Level Up Your Business
- Book by Joey Coleman – Never Lose a Customer Again: Turn Any Sale into Lifelong Loyalty in 100 Days
- Episode 061 – How to Create Long-lasting Websites (and clients) with Anne Stefanyk
Episode #124 Full Transcription
Hey, everybody, welcome into the podcast. This is Episode 124, where we’re going to be diving into some sales strategies for both web design, freelancers and solopreneurs. And those of you who are running actual web design agencies, and there is a bit of a different strategy and a set of tactics that you’ll likely use as a solopreneur versus an agency with a team. For this talk, I wanted to bring in somebody who has a lot of experience in both of these avenues. This is a repeat guest on the podcast. This is the lovely Anne Stefanyk who I had on the podcast before. And for those of you who heard her first episode, you know, she is the real deal. She is a blast to talk to she is a wealth of knowledge. And she is the CEO and founder of canopy studios, which I view is one of the best examples of a bona fide and legitimate web design agency and digital marketing agency. At the time of recording this interview, she was actually or had just hired her 60 of team members. So they are legit.
Now for those of you who don’t want to take the full blown agency route, but you still want to have a lot of good tactile strategies for selling as a solopreneur. Or maybe with a small team, this is still going to be equally as valuable for you. Because there are some strategies that you can use, you know, for both as a solopreneur and an agency owner, but you’re going to find out that some strategies are best suited for being a freelancer versus having a full team with an agency. And that’s what we dive into.
I found this conversation fascinating again, and it’s just awesome. She’s the real deal. She did say something that I want to highlight right now before we dive in. And because this is such an important takeaway, we dive into this more in the talk here, but it is the idea of the three C’s, those three C’s are Connect, Converse, convert. And most web designers and I think most business owners in general tend to connect with a lead and then immediately want to convert them they immediately want to sell but you are missing that all important middle step, which is the middle C which is Converse, we talk about how to practically do that and how you can guide your clients through the three C’s, get better conversions, get more great clients, and do that all while without feeling sleazy and salesy.
So I’m so excited for you to see what you take away from this episode. Now before we dive in, if you want to have more time to focus on sales, just because you love sales so much. And even if that’s not you, if you just want to, you know, try to get by, one of the best things you can do is solidify your process so that your actual website designs go smoothly. And they go quickly. That way you can dedicate more and more time to sales, onboarding, and all the other aspects of running a web design business. If your process right now is a scattered and cluttered mess. I’d love to help you out with that. It’s why I created my web design process course which is open and available for you right now to join. I would love to help you solidify and streamline your process. I’m going to show you my complete five phase, 50 step process for planning, building and launching websites. Join that today, if interested so you can focus on the thing that I know you love the most in your web design business, which is sales. But in all seriousness, this episode, even if you hate sales, it’s going to empower you. It’s going to give you some confidence, and I can’t wait to hear how it helps you out here is Anne. Let’s have some fun.
Anne welcome back on to the show. It’s so good to have you on again.
Thanks for having me, Josh.
Let’s just kick this off the right way and show our coffee mugs because this was unintentional, but we are both drinking out. For everyone watching this. We’re both drinking out of our Mandalorian Star Wars mug. So I knew I shared a kinship with you. And I had such a blast talking with you in our first episode, which was Episode 61. And I reached out to you recently just asking some questions about sales because my agency which I’m essentially more of a consultant now i did i don’t know if you knew this, but I did sell my agency last year. So I’m essentially more of a consultant role. But we are in the process of hiring two salespeople. And I always I have my way of doing sales that I learned as a solopreneur and a freelancer and having a small team which I teach but I wanted to talk with you about sales because your agency is at a whole nother level. I’m sure sales have have been different through all the seasons of your business. So I can’t wait to dive into this topic with you. Do you want to let everybody know who maybe hasn’t heard that first episode where you’re based out of and what do you do in your role with Kanopi studios.
So again, Hi everybody. My name is Anne Stefanyk and Founder and CEO of Kanopi studios, and we design build and support websites for clients that want to make a positive impact. We specifically work in Open Source, we work in WordPress, and Drupal. And we really focus on taking care of the whole lifecycle of the website for a client. So we do full scale builds. But we also do a lot of what we call continuous improvement, where we’re always learning and iterating and building the website for the long term. So I failed my business from just me. I am the disclosure that I’ll give you is, I’m a sales person first. So that’s where I started, my career was actually in Bizdev, agency sales. And through a series of fortunate events. I’m now you know, an agency owner and have gone through and healed from just myself. So from the very beginning, I’ve always needed developers, like I’ve always needed a team. There was always a bunch of contractors and me running a show. But, you know, over the years as we put together the sales team, and we’ll dig into that, but, you know, overall, my role at Kanopi really is just focused on. Now. We’re a team of 60 we just crested 60 today, which is like, mind blowing.
Last time I talked with you, you were I think you were closing in on 50.
Yes, we’ve had Digital’s definitely tip of the spear right now. And we’ve been had to just hire really, really enthusiastically to catch up with demand. And we’ve been really fortunate to just make that a huge priority for the last two quarters. But now, so what I do 50% of my time is working on the business as the CEO, so doing leadership type work, culture work, vision work, that type of work. And then the other 50% of my time is spent on business development. I call myself the CEO and the CRO so the chief revenue officer. So I oversee all of marketing and sales, because now we have two full time sales executives, and sales coordinator, and a marketing director. So we’ve grown our team over the years from just me doing it all. And I can talk a little bit through that. But generally, that’s where I spend my time now is was 50% on the business and 50% in the business.
Now do you do any type delivery? Yeah, that’s awesome. Do you do any face to face sales? Or should I say zoom to zoom type of sales?
Yeah, do you come? Do you come in at this level where you’re at now? Do you come in on more like high level type projects? I imagine maybe a low level project, I can’t imagine you’re having to be involved with every cell of kin of Kanopi studios. But are you just implemented on the ones that maybe are more high level? Or are the ones that you’re most interested in? How does that work with where you’re at?
I love that question. Because I’m actually generally aware of everything that’s going on in the pipeline. But I’m not always in everything that goes on in the pipeline.
So for example, we have learned over the years that through our qualification process, the most important thing to do is say no early and get things out of our queue really early, so we don’t waste our time on stuff. So the stuff that actually is nurtured and worked on is really qualified to work with us. And as we scaled we had to adjust what that qualification bar is. So for me, I generally work the bigger opportunities. So I spend more time on the the larger builds, or more strategic accounts. We have, you know, Canyon takes care of kind of the higher ed and support continuous improvement department, Jim takes care of the builds as well as works on you know, reimagines, they work really closely together. So it’s a matter of right now of where I am is a little bit of just I need to understand the details of the deal so I can coach and help the person but I’m not going to lie when we do do a sales crumb they have to give me a 411 on what’s going on on that client when they’re asking for support on an opportunity right
Sure. Yeah. And if anyone’s curious about how Kanopi your your business is managing clients and working with them over a lifecycle definitely check out Anne’s first Episode Episode 61 because that was you basically pulled the curtain back on how you guys do that which was awesome. Now I want to start off with a question that may be easy to answer it may be kind of hard to answer it might I don’t know where it’s gonna take us but as we’ve talked about before we went live this is not scripted. We don’t have bullet points we’re walking through we’re gonna have some fun talking about sales. I’m very curious. What is the biggest difference between sales for Kanopi studios now compared to when you started when it was just you?
Oh gosh, when it was just me everything just me and that’s great. A great place to be the one thing I kind of maybe I wished I had done earlier with the when I was an earlier person was just kind of write down what I do a little bit more in real time like document in real time. I made so generally I feel like if you’re a founder if you’re a solopreneur sales will always be on your plate. You will not be able to get rid of it. It is something that will always be part because you are the voice and the face of your organization, if you are the solopreneur, you’re definitely the voice and the face, as you scale to a small agency, that founder energy is really important for both the leadership of your team and the engagement of your clients.
So you’ll still sell, right? So you can never really handoff sales fully to anybody. Because when you and especially if you do that, then they quit to have two weeks notice and you’re like, what’s going on with sales? It’s actually the most fundamental thing in terms of the health of the business is having a really healthy sales strategy. And I think what I learned very early on is that I built my business from word of mouth and referral. So what happened was, is I was, you know, entrepreneur that was like, okay, I’ve decided to start this business, going to get some projects. I’m going to go talk to my network, and I asked questions, I asked for advice.
So I went to other CEOs of other agencies, and I said, Hey, I’m starting this, I need some advice. And then I would get on a zoom call with them. And they’re selling projects at the time that were like 100k Plus, right here, I’m like, if I get a 10k project, I’m like, stoked, right. And that was the difference of then to now right or even, you know, even bigger now. But back in the day, I would call these other agency friends. And they were always happy to help, you know, a budding entrepreneur in the call. What they ended up doing was setting the work for wasn’t like, I was like, Oh, do you want to work? And everybody that does that to me now? It’s like, Yeah, but when a young entrepreneur or someone who’s enthusiastic about growing their business comes to me and says, Can I jump on the phone for advice? I’m like, Yes. And then we do that. I’m like, Oh, this is your super skill. Oh, I’ll send you projects like that. Let me introduce you to my sales team, because they we don’t we don’t do $10,000 projects anymore.
Our minimum threshold is like 100k. For the boards, right? If we’re doing builds, they’re like, 250. Now, right? That’s the scale of where we are, we’re just doing bigger projects for bigger brands, then I couldn’t do that. So when I was there, it was like referrals and word of mouth became the nature of how is your training work. And I can tell you that now, 10 years later, as we kind of build up this business and fall, the word of mouth referrals is still a very healthy pipeline of work. But I’ve had to put other fishing poles in the ocean, right, and that, you know, get out there and start fishing other ways.
But still, to this day, to this very day, when we track all of our leads, where they come from, what’s the most successful sale, word of mouth, and referral is still the easiest to close the best types of clients the most like the clients that we love stuff, we do have a lot of strategic SEO and Google work we’re doing. And those are great clients too, as we’ve honed in how we’re doing that work, but they’re colder, so they take more to warm up, they take a whole different level of like, we know that when a lead comes in from Google, we have an extra level of stuff we have to do to build trust than if it’s word of mouth and referral. So I got fared as a young salesperson, mainly all my work is coming from word of mouth and referral. And that’s when I started putting in the more, you know, poles into the into the pond or the ocean or whatever you want to say there.
Well, well said. I mean, I think that I don’t know how much more we need to dive into. Because what you just said was basically, what I envisioned as far as the progress of sales from when you were just you expanding your network to now is a big team. I am curious about those other fishing poles, which we’ll dive into. But I just want to hit on that point. Because what you said there with just talking to your existing network, that is sales. Tip number one, utilize your existing network professional or personally, that’s exactly what I did. It’s funny. And the more successful entrepreneurs and web designers I talked to I’m astounded about how many people just ask questions to other business owners. And just, it really is amazing. You might think you might be bugging somebody, and maybe somebody is too busy to talk with you. And that’s fine. Don’t take it personally.
But I did the same thing. I reached out to every business owner, I knew when I first got started, I have I don’t have it on my desk, I have a standing desk in the corner. And I’ve got a little manila folder of I still have all my notes from Little pages from back in 2009 and 2010. And I met with business owners in all different industries. I talked about sales, and I they gave me some really good stuff, even though they were in different industries. They gave me some really good stuff.
And to your point, suddenly, they knew I was in web design. It was like one of the first kickoffs for my professional network. And those did subsequently lead in some other referrals. So sales tip number one, use your existing network. I love hearing that it’s still important to you now as it was back then because I wondered, I don’t have experienced myself in an agency of your size. I’ve never worked for one. I know friends who have been some. I didn’t really know what the sales look like. So you know, when you first get started as a solopreneur as a freelancer, the most common things that I teach and recommend and that are pretty natural is like networking groups, any sort of meetups, whether it’s WordPress related or other industries. Any business to business type groups Chamber of Commerce is I’m talking face to face kind of stuff. Do you guys still do that? Do you guys do you have your sales team or what what does the organic referral type of stuff look like for you guys?
Sure. So, I guess be pre COVID, I definitely did a little bit more boots on the ground type work. So I’m usually based in San Francisco. That’s where I usually hail from. I’ve been up north to Canada for during the pandemic, and it’s still here. I’ve seen her a little slower up here and border still closed, so I’m still here. But that’s okay. I’m having a good time. But the thing is, is that we used to do a little bit more we did events before. And I think that we put a lot of money into conferences. And during the pandemic, we pivoted that to more digital marketing and SEO like hiring as an agency, it’s kind of like, the cobblers kids have no shoes, like, I love our website. But I also don’t like there’s so much I want to do with it. And we just don’t have capacity because we’re busy doing client work, right.
So from an SEO standpoint, we have to do, we just had to write a ton and just really get into the right place, we ended up hiring an agency to support us from an SEO standpoint and pivoted all of our event money. And we did a couple of different trials we did outbound and we tried that for you know, six months, and then we put money into SEO, and we kind of measured which one gave us a better return on investment and hands down 100% the SEO one did versus It was really hard to do cold calling in our industry, because the marketers are really jaded, you know, yeah.
But one thing we did really ramp up. And we found that over the years, this has been a tactic I would use for the beginning and even until now, which is LinkedIn, which is just doing, you know, connect with everybody you meet on LinkedIn.
That’s great. That’s funny, we’re
Having sales calls every single client, connect with them all, and then post meaningful content, you’ll keep top of mind.
We were just talking about that in my web design community about the power of LinkedIn and how untapped it is. And yes, it’s a bit of a stiff corporate environment. Like I feel like I should wear a button up if I’m going to be able to go on there. But if you have fun engaging videos and content, and you’re just yourself, you can really make a big impact. And I am curious, because I want to know how you how you target the right type of clients. Not only with LinkedIn, but also with SEO, I guess I’ll guess I’ll ask you about LinkedIn now versus and then maybe we’ll dive into SEO. But when it comes to like LinkedIn, yeah, how, what are your recommendations on how to go about that? Because it is nice, because you don’t have to actually like drive to a networking event and meet a bunch of people you don’t know. And it’s again, it’s still getting out of your comfort zone going into a social media platform like LinkedIn. But it’s not quite as daunting as an in person thing. So yeah, what are some of the strategies on that? Is it posting a lot of free valuable content there, and then starting conversations, just having a serve over sell mentality, what are your some of your tips on LinkedIn specifically?
Okay, so we’ll take it like actually 10,000 feet up and talk about when you’re, when you’re working with a prospect, you have to essentially connect with them, then you need to converse with them. And then you convert them. You can’t go from connect to convert, there’s this in between part that’s really important. So you’ll probably if you’re on LinkedIn, like I get 10 requests a day that are like “buy my services”. “Here, we have this”. “We have developers with people over there”, “we can do UX”, like I’m like I’m not going to buy from you. You wanted to.
So if you’re going to use LinkedIn for networking, the most important part is to remember where does LinkedIn fit into your, your flow of how you connect with an a lead, right, so there’s certain amount of work that you’ll do to fill your funnel, which is all of your, like lead generation type work. And then you’ll have when they go into your pipeline, how you work them through your sales funnel, and then when they pop out, it’s not just like the end of the road, then you want to talk about Client Services, and how to retain a client how to keep a client for the long term. So there’s kind of like three parts to a sales thinking in terms of revenue, like how do we get the leads? How do we nurture the leads? And how do we convert and keep the leads.
So if we’re in that, where LinkedIn falls into play, it falls into a plate in a bunch of different places in there right, it falls into play that if you do end up like, you know, one of the ways that we strongly use LinkedIn is that if we were going to an event, right, what we will do is we’ll probably get a list of who’s coming to the event for a sponsor, if we think about it, if there’s a list of 2000 people, and we’re a sponsor, and let’s say it’s $2,000, to sponsor and then we get that list, right, that’s $1 per lead. How many of those are going to be qualified, based on our experience going to events, maybe 10% of them are even want to buy a website sometime in their life, right, whatever that is. So that’s 200 200. So then out of that, how many are going to buy from us right? And we can kind of do some numbers and crunch to see if it’s a valuable investment. And if we can get that list and hone down and then filter it by all the director of marketers. Then what we’ll do is we’ll do a casual reach out on LinkedIn, that’s like, Hey, I bought We’re going to this event. I’m really excited to meet you there.
Let’s hear in the meantime, no, ask no sale, no blah, blah, blah, blah. Ultimately, you can also see if you have common connections, you can say, hey, it looks like we have a common connection. I see. You’re also going to this event. Hope to see you there. Okay. So what happens is you pop into their LinkedIn, and you’ve got, like, a way this person, but then they’re at the events, and then you meet them. And they’re like,
Oh, yeah, that guy. Yeah, that guy. Yeah.
Right. And then when you’re at the event, you can be like, Oh, nice to meet you. Let’s, you know, let’s let me get your email, let’s set up a time to chat, right? And then you have another channel like LinkedIn is another form of communication, that business people are willing to communicate with you. But they won’t just give you information. So if you jump into a group, and you’re like, oh, all these people have the same interest, I’m gonna start messaging them all, you’re probably gonna get very little response, right? You’re about how do you, you know, if you do go to a chamber of commerce networking thing, you know, find them all on LinkedIn and connect with them all on LinkedIn right there, say, hey, it was lovely to meet you. Right?
All you have to say is like a connection because again, all you’re doing connecting, and then the conversing part is you’re gonna post stuff that hopefully you’ve chosen the right director of marketing to connect with, they might not need a website today, but in two years, they do. And all of a sudden, you post something about accessibility of forms for you know, making sure your website forms are accessible or whatever. And they’re like, Oh, that’s interesting person I met there. I had someone pop up on LinkedIn from one of our clients is now I’ve been connect with him for seven years. Now, Marty, right, awesome, Marty out of the Woodworks, like, hey, I want you to help me with my you know, we’re doing a Drupal big Drupal project Drupal seven migration, I’d love for you to help. Right, seven years later, yeah, LinkedIn has this secret like sowing nature, like it’s like a garden, you just have to plant seeds. You don’t have to, you shouldn’t expect anything to convert out of it. But it’s a tool you can use.
So two thoughts on this. First of all, the three C’s genius. I think I’ve heard a lot of variations of this, but I don’t know unless I just wasn’t paying attention. But the idea of connecting, conversing, converting, that really is the sales cycle, not just on LinkedIn, but in general. And even with what I do, I’m not in service work anymore. But with with my students, the way they come through is this same path, they connect with me somehow with a freebie or a tutorial or, or something. And then for me, the conversation is at one on one, it’s more like they get into my podcasts, they watch more videos, they get to know me, they get to know how I can help and be their guide. And then the conversion happens once they feel comfortable. And once they feel like they know like and trust me and it was the exact same with sales. When I joined my networking group, it was connecting first getting to know everybody conversing, I was very not salesy. I just tried to share what I knew and what I was learning. And then that’s when the conversion started happening. So I back you up on that. And that is such a great little
It’s also being authentically human and helpful, right. I always go into conversations with people, and especially when you’re qualifying them just be like, I you know, I’m here for you to help you. Even if we don’t work together, I want to help you because the web design industry is somewhat confusing. And we understand this isn’t your day job, right and giving them even yourself as a resource to them as you’re working through this. So if they maybe don’t work with you, because their boss says no, a website has to be five grand 10 grand or 50, grand and whatever, you know, whatever the barrier is, they’ll still have you in their minds when they switch jobs, they’ll call you.
That is true. That is true. That is true. I had numerous jobs from the same person that was in different companies. And it was amazing. Yeah, once you just keep that kind of connection. Now, my second thought on the link.
Before we move on to that thought, I just want to quote I actually in 2016, part of my growth was that I was hustling sales all by myself. And I’m a big believer of getting help. I’m a big believer of coaches of finding someone that smarter than you to teach you what you need to know. So I hired a sales coach in 2016. His name is Scott Sambucci, salesqualia and that’s his three C’s. Okay, I’d love to drop his information in the show notes because he won’t we clarify like what was in my head, he helped me really put it on paper and customize it. But he also taught me a bunch of fun sales stuff and, and I can, you know, for sure be perks here. But I would definitely encourage anybody that’s looking for a little bit of help, actually to reach out to Scott and just get he helps entrepreneurs get from no revenue to revenue. That’s his specialty. So if you are like, interested in what his coaching programs are, and he has a lot of value adds like ebooks and stuff, do you you know, but that’s a good a good resource that I’d love to share with your network.
Definitely. We’ll put that in the show notes. That sounds great. And the beautiful thing about sales is it’s not dependent on just web design, like sales is universal. It applies to all different industries. Yeah, we could get tactile with more web design specific things and I’ve got some web specific strategies for sales but at the end of the day, connect Converse. Convert. That’s universal. The second thought the why I wanted to hone in on LinkedIn there is that LinkedIn is an interesting platform. I never really use it myself, I have a profile, but I never I can’t even tell you the last time I logged in, I haven’t probably haven’t logged in like three years or something like it’s, I just don’t use it.
Now, if I were doing service work for what, as a web designer, today, I would 100% be on LinkedIn, I would probably be on that more than Facebook more than Instagram, because it attracts professional people in generally. And maybe you can speak to this. Anne with something like LinkedIn, people are a little more open to business talk. Whereas Facebook is going to be either more just family kind of stuff connection, or it’s going to be you know, divisive and political Instagrams more just kind of fun. Now, there’s a lot of value in Instagram marketing. I know now, too, but there is something that’s interesting about whether it’s a digital space or an in person space that is you’re there for business.
And I think that’s the power of LinkedIn. And when some of these networking groups and stuff like that, and the reason I mentioned that, is I want to hear from you about your sales team. And like, Where are where are they getting some of these more like hot leads when it comes to organic and referral? Obviously, you talked about SEO, that’s great. Because if you do content marketing, you position yourself as an authority, you become the person they go to, it’s a great way to kind of start that lead. But when it comes to like all these other avenues, like networking and stuff like that, yeah. How are you targeting the right type of clients? I guess? I guess that’s the question.
It’s definitely evolved over the years, I think we have we intentionally do self work to Kanopi where we’re working on our personas, we I think I mentioned this the last one, we leverage the entrepreneur operating system, or EOS to run our business. And part of that really honed down into the two pager business plan. But we’ve done a lot of work on our personas per se. So we have our P personas we’re targeting and we also have our anti personas, the people that we don’t work with. So the sales team can be really clear of how this these these people need to buy our services and what their common, like what they’re looking for, for value versus what their common objections are. And so forth.
Yeah, real quick, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to cut you off. But this is such an important point. Because I learned early on, it was just as important to clarify what I don’t do, as far instead, as opposed to like what I do do as far as the services. And that’s the same importance as the type of clients, it’s important to who you are going to work with and who is ideal versus who is not ideal. And to get them out as quickly as possible, right?
Yeah, we always say in sales, let’s get to the No, let’s get let’s get to the No, we don’t want to waste anybody’s time, right. Like let’s, let’s figure out who we need to move through. But if there’s a real clear, and we have a list of things that we’ve made that help the other team members understand what not all of it is, but we do find the personas are really helpful. Like, for example, we’ve really shied away from doing agency work, we’re a big enough agency, but if we work with another agency, we can’t use their work on their website, often it’s on our design, it just doesn’t really work for us and that’s Agency Amanda.
Then we have, that’s our anti persona, right. And then we also don’t really enjoy doing staff augmentation. We find that working on somebody else’s code with that person who sometimes maybe it’s not as, as we have a very rigorous coding review process and so forth. It doesn’t really work for a team, they get a little bit grumpy when they have to clean up somebody’s mess over and over and over again. Right? So clean it move on versus constant. So that’s Augmentation Arnold.
So when Tanja and Jim here are these, you know, people come up, say, Oh, I want you to do the development, we’re going to do the design, you’re going to work with our developer, they can say, okay, No, thanks. We don’t do that work. Right, versus we have Support Stacy, which is our, you know, support marketer that really needs to get the job done doing the basics of like the web maintenance, but also some basic enhancements, then we have a Premiere Patty, who is enterprise level, who’s you know, we’re working, you know, as fast as we possibly can, they sometimes have four to 10 websites, you know, it’s all busy. And then we have our more Traditional Trey, which is our big build projects, right? And we really have personified them in terms of their team size. And when we’re talking about our target market, it’s so like Field of Dreams secret, like you build it, they will come it’s amazing.
Sometimes when you actually like really clearly articulate what you want in your personas. It’s amazing how much that sometimes almost shows up, right, when you’re clear of what your boundaries are, what you will and won’t take, when I’m doing that kind of thinking. We’re also thinking, Okay, I know at Kanopi right now at our scale. We have a sweet spot with marketers. If they’re one marketer, they’re too small for us. They can’t afford us. If they’re a team of 30 marketers, they’re too big, complicated, too many internal things that they already do in house. We need someone who has a team of three to five to seven, like three to seven marketers that are in their team. So they have enough velocity to work with us at a cadence that’s needed. And they can afford us. And they want us at that level where they’re very value driven.
But we know that automatically when we’re looking at a company, and we’re saying, oh, you’re a team of, you know, 5000 team members globally, and your marketing team is 35 people, we’re probably not the right fit, right, some of those signals that we’ve done that we’ve had to identify. Another good signals, we work a lot with mission driven clients, and we love them, but often because the scale of our business, we are just too expensive for so many nonprofits, right? There’s a threshold, right? So we know that if they have less than, you know, a million to $2 million in operating budgets, they’re not going to be able to afford 100 to $200,000 website or website program for so we figured, okay, we built a referral network, send all the small clients their way right? Because people need the service, but we just can’t, right.
Yeah. You send them to this to Anne from 10 years ago? Yeah.
Yeah, we got a fun project to work on, you know, or, you know, we help, you know, help people just get to the right spot, we hope. But that generally gives us like, we know, client size, we know team size, we know, operating revenue, we know the target personas, like we know someone that wants to just come in for three months, build a website and leave, we actually don’t want to work with them, even if they aren’t target persona, because we’re invested in the long term of the website. They’re not a good fit. Yeah. So it’s very black and white at the beginning. Right, that’s great for you,
I think that’s a really good model. I hadn’t really thought about it like that. But yeah, having those different personas like that. And, of course, to the average freelance web designer who’s just maybe earlier on in the journey, and they’re working with small and medium sized businesses and their local town, that’s a great way to go as you could probably, whether it’s maybe by revenue, or by industry, if you’re going niche, there’s different ways you could create these little personas. And then I would imagine, you probably know pretty quick, where these people are going to fall into these projects or these personas. And then you can either weed them out, send them on, refer them on or you know, really quick, like target the ones who are a good qualified lead. For me, the biggest thing I learned with sales, apart from actually getting traffic in the door was to identify very quickly Is this a qualified lead or a questionable lead?
Qualified goes to me directly, I’m going to reach out to them, I’m going to take some time to nurture this relationship and converse, like I said, quite questionable? They go to my funnel, I have like a whole in my business course, I have a whole funnel for qualified or questionable leads, as opposed to qualified. So it sounds like it’s a variation of that. And this, this is why I wanted to talk to you about sales, because there’s so many different ways to go about it. You guys are at a much different and higher level now with these, you know, big projects, big companies. One thing I was curious about was you say your sales team, you said you’re not really doing any in person type of face to face kind of stuff. Is your sales team doing more of this nurturing? Like once they come through from SEO leads and stuff like that? Or what is your sales team actually doing? are they helping people like get from interested to crossing the finish line? Or are they are they doing any sort of cold outreach? What is your sales team doing at this level?
This big dream of doing cold outreach, we’re like oh, we want to go after these target accounts. And we’re going to do this outbound strategy and in the end what happens is we’ve done so much work with our inbound strategy both from word of mouth and referrals. With also doing some strategic SEO work we also have done events in the past obviously the ROI on events in the last year and a half have been dismal do some events but will be very targeted at our events and how we do them in the future. But the like most of the stuff like that the sales team right now is working on is inbound right and inbound has come from organic SEO, word of mouth and referrals partners.
So if you are a solopreneur going and finding agency that can feed you work that’s a really great Lifeline that you don’t have to worry about sales but an even if you you know starts that might be one of your personas and Agency Amanda might be a really good persona for you or you know the Business Bobby might be a really good you know, in person relationship you have we when the team members right now, what we’ve done is Okay, everybody knows I love Mike Michalowicz if you listen to the last podcast, right, he has a wonderful book called Profit First, which I highly recommend no matter what scale you are. The next book called Fix This Next, really talked about how you can build your business sustainably and where you need to go. And he has a you won’t see this maybe in the show notes.
But there’s like a printout I’m holding up here. And the bottom one really is about sales and sales is the fundamental like I couldn’t bring on a sales team until I had some repeatable processes and some of the stuff that I started building and that was really intentional in 2016. When I hired the sales Coach, cuz I hired like just to give you folks all some context like I’m a sales girl from the beginning of when I’ve always done agency stuff. But I’ve never grown a sales team or actually built a business in this scale, right. So when I was in 2016, and I recognized, I needed to create more sustainability, I focused on how to create a repeatable sales process because I kept hiring sales engineers and sales people, and it failing, absolutely failing. And why it failed is that because I really didn’t have a good process that was documented, that was repeatable, that other people could leverage. And then to, I was, I was going through the wrong person.
I didn’t realize that I was trying to hire somebody, but it wasn’t the person I was supposed to be hiring, I was trying to hire someone who’d be like my technical sales co engineer, or someone who could help with outbound. So I tried like Technical Sales engineering kind of developers that wanted to be there, or I also tried an outbound like a BDR. And, and tried, you know, leveraging leveraging kind of an admin in a very basic way. And what happened is, is that when I decided to really look at with got 10, butene, I sat down, I then looked at where what was hurting, right? Was it the lead generation? Was it getting them through the pipeline? Or was it keeping the clients right? Again, those three phases of when you’re thinking about client, client sales. And that’s when I really realized that I had two problems.
One is that I didn’t have once they got into the pipeline, I didn’t have as much problem closing them, I had a pretty good close ratio, because I’m a salesperson. And I didn’t have a problem keeping them. But I had a problem with lead gen, and actually helping get stuff off my plate to move them through things like on a scalpel level. So we shortened the pipeline for like a three month close to an eight week close. And we built out like a documented like how people go through things. And at that time, I really started thinking about, okay, his part of his part and sales coaching was more of an authority voice, make sure that you’re to creating value, right, build a content, repository of ebooks, and, and so forth, right. And so what happened was, as I got a little bit more of this documented, I decided, and this is based on his his coaching was hire, hire an admin person that can help you with just spinning up documents, where they can help you with just booking the calendar. And I can help you with taking notes on your calls that can help you with just the basics, don’t try to hire a salesperson right now hire someone who can pay stuff off your plate.
And what happened was that as I did this, and I, I somewhat, I feel like got fate was part of all this because this girl named Tanya showed up, she applied for a different job. But I kind of looked at and I was like, you could be sales, you could do this, you could just take stuff off my plate. And with her help, I hired her because what Scott had also said is if you don’t have the capacity, sit down and write everything down, hire somebody to follow you around. And so that’s what we did. And that was our first salesperson.
Yeah, that’s one of the most important things with any business when it starts to become because when you’re a solopreneur, it’s all in your head. And I can’t understate the value of having some sort of SOP standard operating procedure, ideally, and the majority of things that you’re doing, but sales does seem to be one of those things that you just neglect as an operating procedure. But there really does need to be an intentional outline of that for people if they’re going to follow because like you said in the beginning, and you as the founder, it all everything kind of rests on your shoulders with the vision of the company, the feel of the company, how sales go.
So I did this is a perfect time to ask you. When do you think is the time if there’s a time to go from just you doing the sales to a team, because I think when it comes to inbound like organic referral related versus more outbound more like ads and that kind of stuff. There’s a big difference between those two types of sales. And we’ve talked about the difference between kind of a hot lead and a cold lead. The one problem I had with referrals is because my business was 100% referral based, and it did me really well. But I did have seasons where I had a lot of referrals one month and I had like barely any referrals the next month.
Referral leads and inbound, a lot of inbound strategies I feel are kind of like rain, it will rain, but you just don’t know when it’s gonna rain. Whereas I know a lot of people focus on more targeted, like controlled type of leads with outbound. But I guess that kind of leads us to the question, in that with that idea of inbound versus outbound, when is the time to grow from just you doing the sales to maybe bringing somebody on? And do you think it’s worthwhile bringing two people on? Because I’ve heard that idea too, to have two salespeople, because anytime we get sales people competing with each other, sometimes it can be a really healthy thing. What are your thoughts on that?
So I guess it all depends. I’m a big fan of not paying by commission, because I believe there should be value in what they do and that they’re not trying to sell something To make $1, that doing something for the best for the person. So there’s a couple questions you have there. First off, when to hire a salesperson really kind of depends on your revenue, and what you can sustain, right? So you may find that if you’re, if you’ve crusted over, like, if you’re not getting to everything and you’re not getting to sales, then you will have a problem in your business. Straight out. So you’ll have to dedicate time in your calendar for sales no matter what even when you hire someone, whether it’s coaching and training and mentoring and supporting and dealing with clients that are going through the process.
But when it’s time to hire a salesperson, I always find that the solopreneurs, they actually first should hire an admin who can help with some of the sales infrastructure pieces, okay? So in some ways, if you’re a founder, like it’s just you, and you’re just going after things, and it’s you’re not planning to scale really huge, or even to eight or 12. People, I feel like you need a dedicated salesperson, when you have like eight, eight people or more, it’d be helpful to have somebody a lot of the times I see smaller agencies having like a blended role where this person will do some Account Services and be billable, right? There’s that role where sometimes they’ll do sales and account stuff.
Like I was only able to hire my second sales executive, I was only able to hire one with Tandy coming on board, you know, four or five, four years ago, and it’s just around 2017. Pardon me? This last year? Okay, well, I’ve scaled to 60, to be able to afford a second salesperson because they’re fully non billable, and I’ll pay them well, so they don’t have to worry about hustling the wrong project for commission. So for me what worked for me, and this might not work for anybody, everybody is that first hire like a sales admin to actually like, take the stuff off of the plate, that’s just the real basic stuff help you operationalize. And then when there’s enough work on the pipeline, that will both you have enough incoming leads to support a salesperson and you have enough revenue to support that person. And again, that’s why I leveraged that profit first model.
So I can do bit modeling with my money to say, if I add, you know, a high paid salesperson that’s going to know what’s going on, how does that how does that operate in my budget? Can I afford that over the long term, because if you hire a new salesperson, you have to give them a full six months before you expect anything, you have to reduce all of your expectations. So you want to hire the right person. And that’s why I get nervous about hiring two. Because if you’re doing it to see which one works out, that’s expensive, I would say choose the right one, and then move forward with that one really intentionally, because you have to spend quite a bit of time with them, even if you have a bunch of stuff documented. Now, if you’re hiring to and you have, again, if you don’t have any leads coming in and you’re expecting a salesperson to go and get leads, that’s also incorrect because that sales person is taking care of that middle part. That’s what they’re trained to do. If you want to get someone who’s going out and getting leads, you need to hire a BDR a business development Rep.
Okay, so that’s great. This kind of hits back to the question, I had a little bit of go about what are these salespeople doing? And it sounds like they’re, they’re more probably in the middle stage of conversing and nurturing. Yeah, getting through the door. So yeah, that that business development type, like, like getting the actual traffic, the leads, which we’ve already hit on a lot of the strategies that you guys are implementing. I am curious with, because I’m sure when you were early on, and I imagine you were being that it was your business, were you doing any like networking events, and suddenly, this was back in 2010. We’re you doing stuff like that.
I definitely think that like hosting partners, for example, hosting partners are wonderful, especially if you’re starting to bring bigger deals to them, they’ll they’ll give you a pretty big deal. We’re friends with all of our hosting partners, I’m presenting at WP Engine summit tomorrow, or whenever this is this is probably in the past when everybody will hear that. But the things are that the pote the relationships that we’ve built over time have come from a combination of imperson and nurturing online. So again, it’ll be going to a conference meeting a bunch of people connecting with them, pre pandemic, we would host like breakfast meetups, and invite clients and like clients, potential clients, and so forth. But honestly, the ROI and compared to an online webinar event that’s really targeted, we find has been way more effective than my in person events. So webinars, beautiful rate fishing pole that we’ve put in that and we barely do webinars, right, which is kind of hilarious. Just because it’s again, it’s generating content from our peoples which are so busy. So
There’s another great sales tip for every web designer that can absolutely host any sort of webinar free training. And I learned this when I was in a networking group because we would have like every few months we would have our turn to present. And I always found when I presented on something, whether it was the basics of SEO or how to understand Google Analytics or anything like that I would always get such interest. And then I often got quite a few jobs after those. And it was it was like well done, maybe I should do more of those, I can do those at scale, or I can do that in a in a bigger, you know, not just this group, but a larger market. So that is absolutely key. And it really is so valuable. So your sales team now it sounds like what might be different about your sales team versus if any one of my audience are interested in getting in the the next level of sales is that you have such an established brand, that they probably came into it with more established partners and relationships and processes. Whereas you know, a freelancer who maybe is growing a small team, if they want to get help, I guess that’s the next question I have for you. On a lower level, let’s say Anne in like 2013, what would you advise her to do in regards to sales to really get to that next level? And to have more of a consistent pipeline?
Yeah, you know, I think that is Fortunately, I just love selling. Helping people. So in that back in the day, I think the biggest thing that I did is my business advice I got from my mentor, when I first started, the business was whatever would you put in your petri dish will grow. And I often sometimes almost ignored some of those spidey sense things where I was like, Oh, this is gonna be maybe kind of weird, but we’ll make it work. Right? And then that, like, hey, that’s gonna be kind of weird came up, you know. So I would say the biggest thing is that another thing I got from one of my coaches is when I was like, he’s like, don’t run your business from gut feelings, run it with data, because you will get that brought, you would have to run your business of data.
Because before I was like, I think I need to hire Oh, yeah, I think I need more sales. You know, there was this, like hustle of magic that back in the day, I was just kind of running as fast as I could, and not really had vision. But there was also as just I was early on, right, early on in 2000, you know, 2013 to 2016, there were some chaotic moments of bumps and of the agency of learning that we scaled to 36 and had to shrink back to 22. pretty quick. Okay, off was really hard, right? But we didn’t have we had a bunch of projects, though. The ones I was like, that’s totally fine. We’re fine. Right? That’s it gotta clean it up. But through all that, you know, I think the biggest thing is, is again, whenever you put in your traditional role, and sometimes it’s scary to say no, but it’s better to say no, because you’ll leave space for the right project.
It’s better to, you know, and again, this is why I wish I would profit first. Because I probably wouldn’t have gotten so many hairy spots. But if there is something about like, back in the day, the biggest thing I’d say to all the people wherever you are in your journey is to just say no to the wrong things early on, get dig into the things that are right. The one thing that I got a really great blog post from my director of marketing, Allison, from Seth Godin, you know, he writes, famous writer, and you talked about, like, your business may be your demise, because you’re known to be so reliable, because you know that you’re get the job done, you will have lots of work. But if you don’t learn how to navigate that work, you could become flooded, and then not be able to be reliable and start losing clients.
Does, it Kanopi because we had such a demand for digital. All our clients like, Hey, we need more. And we have new clients and I didn’t have enough staff and I could see things falling, right. And I can, I can’t stop because I just don’t have enough hands. So it was like this terrifying moment of like, we’re doing a good job that we are doing almost like we’re we can’t service all of the needs. So we’ve had to kind of figure out how to gently take care of the clients. And I feel like that’s at the same stages. Even if you’re one person, if you pick on too many projects at once, and then you piss off all three or six or clients, then you’re not going to have clients that are gonna refer you work if you taken three strategic ones or two strategic ones and know that, okay, if I’m in development here, I’m gonna need a new project in two months, so I can schedule the next one for two months. So you know, kind of think about your pipeline more than just what’s happening tomorrow. But there’s this element of I see a lot of single entrepreneurs get out get excited. That muscle as much as they can all of a sudden. And I think that as you go through that if if you don’t take on the right projects and have like normal works, like work doesn’t need to be like work should be very calming and enjoyable. But stressful. Something has to change. Yeah. And if all of a sudden comes tax time and you have no money and you’re stressed out about something like this, like then all of a sudden you’re like, Oh, I gotta go sell something like no, which is not what a tax payment plan with the IRS or CRA. Tell the right thing. Don’t sell in desperation.
Yeah. And clients desperation in a heartbeat. Yeah, that’s for me. I was a solopreneur for a long time with occasional subcontractors and then I got to the point where I’ve said Before on the podcast, I think it was like 23 projects. I had basically all myself and I was like, oh, man, I was just like a flood. They all which, you know, I know some people think it’s a good problem to have, it was awesome to have a lot of work. But it was a problem. And I was like, How the heck am I gonna get all this done, that was the situation that forced me to hire somebody to take over the deliverables and the actual fulfillment of design. And I could focus on more of the processes and in project management stuff. And I think that is a really important to think of early on. Because you can’t get to a point where you just want to get as many clients as you can.
But unless you have your processes in place, to do the work, do it well. And to fulfill that and to be able to handle both, that’s Yeah, heads up, that’s the most important thing, it honestly is more important to have that in place and to get a bunch of clients. Because if you get 10 clients, and they all end up unhappy, because you did a terrible job, and it took forever, that’s worse than getting your systems and processes in place, getting a few clients and doing a really good job. And then all of a sudden, you get the referral train. And I think this is another really important, I’m sure you’ll back me up on this Anne, there is a time where you do have to hustle a little more and do more sales, particularly early on, you got to make those connections, you got to get out there, get out of your comfort zone, whether it’s webinars, free trainings, networking, SEO, whatever it is all these tactics we’ve talked about. But you do get to a point where I’ve found that sales tend to come along organically and referral based when you take care of your current clients. And I see you smiling because I have a feeling that’s what you guys transitioned to I don’t know when that was, when was that? When did you guys go from needing to really sell, sell and get a lot of, you know, get your get your brand out there versus Okay, we’ve got a lot of good clients, let’s take care of them. And then they’ll take care of our business. When did that change and transition happen for you?
The very beginning, it’s always been this way. So I have two things I always make sure is that the employees are number one, make sure they’re happy and engaged and enjoying their work. And then they’ll make the client happy or disgruntled, they never will. So that’s my first focus. The second focus on Client Services, that ultimately these are humans that we’re interacting with. And humans usually have big feelings, and they have expectations and they have pressures. So what we really try to cultivate this the human experience for our clients and really understanding them. There’s a great book called How to never how to never lose a customer again by Joey Coleman. And he talks about the client journey, which I think is phenomenal, because it’s an eight step eight phases, but only two are the sales. The next six are how to nurture and keep a client. But I think, honestly, a client services has been number one for me. And just making sure that we stand behind our work.
I was very eager when I was of course very hungry for all the projects because I had now taken the full leap and have a team This is March 2013. Like I was no longer just hustling side projects on my own with a bunch of contractors and had a full timer, I had a website, I had like a team of five people on one another agency that would contract for us. And then I had one full timer chain. And then Jill, which was she’s my business partner and my sister, but she also was the one that like ran all the books and all the money and all the stuff that I gotcha, right. So I’d scaled to about like we had three full timers and a team of five, that was our contract team. And that’s where we were. And I was worried about projects, having enough work to have a full timer, right. And my mentor said, do really good work, spend the extra time that you don’t that you feel anxious with that you feel like you should be doing something else, making sure the client is super happy. Just do what you have on your plate really well. And then again, monitor keep keep your eye on the game that you still got to be searching for new leads and going out to that’s where I was still really hustling, right going to every single networking event I could, talking to everybody on needs. It was often like I’m doing this. Do you have any advice? Again, it was always like, do you have advice and then projects? Maybe you can work on this client or something, again, going into agency owner networks, right? And just talking to other people in my industry, going to business to business, like there’s business coaching for CEOs, right? So I’m a CEO, even though I’m one person, right? Like Let me go. So Vistage was they were always keen to make me a member so they’ll invite me to their breakfast things or whatever. So I go.
Hey here’s a secret. Here’s a secret tip for everybody listening when it comes to getting in front of a lot of qualified business owners get a business coach because guess who they are coaching also a bunch of business owners and I got so many leads when I was involved with a big business coaching program, because they had me in several times to do like presentations for these these other businesses they were working with and I got a lot of great bit projects and really good connections just because I was in.
Everybody in the room, person in that room. So even if only one is going to buy all of them you should LinkedIn right? Like, yeah, something is get their business cards or get get connected with all of them. So you never know what will come on to those meetings. But that was the hustle that was like, I always figured, like get a business card or get a LinkedIn from every single person I met. Just keep doing that. Keep doing that. Keep planting the seeds, go to events go to every single booth, go and talk to as many people one of the things I would do at lunches to meet new people. I would have like four lunches, okay, get to the lunch early, I would get a plate and put small amounts of food on my plate. I go and pick a table and meet everybody at that table and get business cards from everybody that table, go down my plate, get another small plate, go to another table meet another lunches at events and I’d meet like 40 people every lunch because I would have four lunches, right?
Cuz we did. We passed out in the corner over there stuff.
I’m on my fourth, I’m grabbing the brownie, right? So I’m like, Oh, well, I’m also I’m an 11. When it comes to a scale of one to 10 and extroverted this like I’m very comfortable doing that on my CTO. She’s a highly introverted, amazingly brilliant woman, we go into a room, she stands in the corner with a glass of wine meets one person and has a really deep intelligent conversation I meet like 20 people in the room is a butterfly. Right? It’s just an often she’ll bring a really qualified lead to a wall that she just met and really had a deep organic, real conversation. So don’t feel like you have to be the butterfly extrovert and go out and do all these things. You may choose that as if you’re more of an introverted person, different avenues that feel comfortable, like,
You know, just giving space for different types of people to sell. And if you’re more introverted, sometimes it’s having deeper, more intellectual conversations one on one versus me that goes to everybody.
That’s that I’m so glad you said that. Because I think that is the big apprehension for most all web designers. I think most people get into web design, to get out of those type of type of meetings. But if you are everybody wearing every hat and your business, like it or not, you’re the salesperson, so you do have to get out of your comfort zone. But you can absolutely cater your sales strategy to your personality type, and to do what you enjoy. And I have found once you get out of your comfort zone a little bit, you do tend to get a little more comfortable, because I was really nervous about joining a networking group. And I was like, Oh my god, something once a week, it sounds like a nightmare. Oh, it’s at 730 in the morning, God, you know, like, I really dreaded that.
But once I got comfortable there and I got confident in that group, because they became my sales force. For me, it wasn’t just them I was trying to appeal to it was who they knew. And that’s the really big, I think that overarching thought we’ve kind of gone in and out of here is that when you build a network, whether it’s other web designers, agencies, local businesses, connections through LinkedIn, and meetups, whatever it is, they are your Salesforce, they may not be the clients directly, he might get some of those directly, but they become the Salesforce because you become that person, I cannot tell you how important that is.
So I love that. And I love that you said that because I’m sure a lot of people are not like that would be me too. I’d probably stick with like 10 people, I might be a hybrid between super extroverted and somewhat introverted might be on the middle there. But I would be much more apt to like meet a bunch of people and walk around versus you know, but the people who are really intimidated can find just one person and really lean into that perfect example. Our realtor that we use my family she was in my networking group, such a great gal, she’s, she’s amazing. We The first time I met her was at a big networking group of like, 250 people and she looked like a deer in the headlights. She was just in the corner. And she just joined our networking group, we went to this big event. And she was like, Oh my gosh, I don’t even know what to do. I’m so just overloaded. And we ended up having a really good conversation and we just kind of hung out.
Now I did a little bit of both, but I think me being there and having some time with her up there free, more comfortable. And when she got involved in our smaller group, she really opened up so I say all that to say it’s okay, like if you feel like you’re an introvert, you can still sell if you put serve, oversell. I think that’s really the name of the game. And I think you’re a prime example of that, and of your whole career really just serving first client relationship. And I will say you said something a little bit ago that my business coach said when I had him on my podcast here recently in Episode 101, when I asked him what some of the best ways to build your authority and get more leads, he said, do good work, do really good work. And I think so many people are focused on sales and getting traffic and their work sucks. And what are your thoughts on that and the importance of making sure you do good at your craft before anything?
Oh, 100% 100% you know, you have to be able to do good work to make this all work. Otherwise you won’t be in business, right. And that’s where we’ve had certain bumps in the road that we’ve had to grow from. But yeah, and it’s definitely been about taking care of the clients. I feel like as we’ve evolved, there’s there’s another book I’d recommend called Giftology. And it’s a great accompaniment to never lose a customer again, because it really talks about how to skillfully gift your clients to make them feel special and heard and really valued. Right. So we also do this with employees we do we have a gifting program, but we have a gifting program for our clients where we give them the gift on what we call their anniversary. Super every year. Nice. first weekend, right? So the custom cutting board, you know, we kind of in the gift ology book to prompt me to take care of the family and the family will take care of you. So you get a gift that’s for the whole family, not just your point of contact, and we’d give a gift that’s not disposable, or, or like a gift card or food. Yeah, like, assuming I can can’t have dairy and generally don’t like seafood, whatever trying to get me food is like a nightmare, right? You can’t send me a gift. That will work for me, right? And I’ve got all these allergies, right. So it really talks about how to create a customized gift. And I feel like that’s part of the client journey. It’s like your human interacting with the human, whatever, whatever level you’re at help be helpful. And make sure to work really does happen skillfully. And then create value together, right. And that will allow them to then if they’re really we’ve had clients be like, I love you, folks so much. Let me do a video testimonial for you. Oh, okay.
Didn’t even need to ask for it. Awesome.
You know, and like you have clients that are willing to go over and above, you know, if you’re a web designer, and you’re thinking of scaling, there’s a really great place called clutch, which is one of those other fishing poles we have. And we’ve created a design a portfolio. And then what we do, it’s like Yelp for web developers, though. But our clients actually have to get reviews and talk to clutch and do an interview, and projects in a certain field. And people can just go rate you and leave comments and stuff. But getting like a five star review on clutch. And kind of showing those testimonials is another great way to if you have a happy client, they’ll give you a testimonial, that’s unclutch. That’s good for SEO, that’s good for, you know, we get x number of leads from clutch a month. And then we also know that we can use that during our sales processes. We’re talking to somebody like, Oh, you have a really big migration project. And you’re really worried about, you know, budget, here’s a testimonial on clutch, which is a third party reviewer from another migration project that was massive, and how we stayed on budget, and it goes into some depth.
So there’s this element of like, by taking care of your customers, they also help you sell. Yeah, part of our part of our thing is we love to love our clients so much that they naturally just refer us we’re trying to work on a more intentional path. Right. And one of the things we actually we actually one of the SEO agency did this to us. And I thought this was brilliant, I want to do this too, was we had our we had our night, we have a 30 day check in with new clients to see how they’re doing. And if their goals are getting that we have a 45 day guarantee. So we want to make sure we’re gonna hit the 45 day guarantee, okay, and our 45 day guaranteed service showed tangible value. So whatever that means to them, we identify it early on, and then at 45 days, we hit it. And then at 90 days, this is the sales team checked in on the account. And then the account manager works through quarterly success sessions like. But at that 90 day, especially for help support clients, we’re doing kind of like, pretty, we’re at that year mark. So we feel like we’ve had a year of really good traction together. And it’s our comfort level people come in and ask earlier, at the year mark, when we’re sitting down to we ask them Is there anybody will go sorry, we’ll go through their LinkedIn ads and say, hey, you’ve got these 5,10 connections we’d love to make, would you make an introduction?
Okay, so we’re taking a client relationship and saying, okay, you’re really happy with us? Here’s people that are in your LinkedIn network. And they may go, I don’t know, three of those people. were like, Oh, that’s no make an introduction. If you don’t know them do either. But I know these two people really well, right. And then you have a dialogue, and then you get a warm referral. So it is kind of like with those nurturing clients that are really happy. There are humans and they’re friends with you in the end, right? They’re asking for like, hey, do you know anybody else that would benefit from our services? If they’re happy with either like, yes. Let me introduce you to these three people. It comes from the very beginning of your hustle to get them. Keep them.
Yes, yes, you hustled to get him keep them and then it is true. If you have a client and it goes really well and the project goes great. You want more of those type of clients and projects and your vibe attracts your tribe. So people who you work with are often going to be connect with other people like them. And if they’re not referring you, it may not be intentional. It’s just because you didn’t ask them or they didn’t think about it, but that I cannot understate the importance of this because this is one of the most important sales tips that I have. That is to just ask, just like he said, and just ask, Hey, we’re looking to work with some more businesses in this industry or I saw that you are connect with some people, can you do an introduction, and more often than not, your client will be happy to do that. And then if you have nurtured that relationship, if you did a really good job, suddenly, they became they become your biggest advocate, and they are like a hot, they’re almost like your salesperson on it, that you don’t have to pay that you’re there. They’re paying you and they’re your salesperson. That is, I think, truly where it’s at. I’m so glad you mentioned that, because I think it’s a very underrated and and I understand I didn’t think about that when I got started. But once I started doing that, I thought, Oh, my God, why haven’t I been doing this for years?
For sure. You know, and it’s interesting, because our, our salespeople are busy, because we have, you know, six, seven years of track record of of delivery, right? So it again, it’s just, it’s just so important as you scale to keep those relationships. And you know what, the best part is that we had a client website that went over budget by 2000 hours, okay, it almost buried us was awful, right? Big migration. And you know, what we did? We were in the trenches with them, we owned it, we didn’t apologize, we just miss estimated, but we owned it, and we bought it across the finish line. And you know what, they’re still our client. And you’re one of our best references. Oh, you have a reference that says, here’s a project that went massively over budget. And here’s how we owned it. Are we going to do that again? No, we’re not going to do that again. But you know, just to give that trust to that person was one of those elements of like, a salesperson has to take them through the pipeline, one of the places where they get stuck is in that like closing the price and feature negotiation, getting them to contracting. And the biggest thing there is building trust.
And so sometimes it’s showing your underbelly of how you’ve screwed up, and how you made it, right. And if somebody a client can talk to somebody where you screwed up, and you made it right, and you’ve been making it right for years since, that is a relationship you can rely on because that is where we built so much trust that Yeah, we screwed up, we owned it, but we also have taken care of them for the next like, they’ve been our clients 2013 the last eight years. Right after a big kerfuffle, right, we work with them, and they’re still having that as a reference his gold, then the client was like, Okay, do this, there might be a screw up. But if they do screw up, they’re gonna own it. And they’re going to, they’re going to make sure that we’re okay, we’re going to take care of our clients first. So yeah, you know, sometimes leveraging those blunders that happen when you’re scaling. If things don’t break, if things don’t, clients don’t fire you, you’re doing something wrong, because you have to have those painful moments in scaling a business to learn what you’re not doing, right. So the point is, if you don’t have those, you’re not taking enough risks, right? You’ve got to get out there a little bit more. But I know that every entrepreneur has felt the bumps and bruises of being an entrepreneur, right? Like it’s not always a smooth ride. But it is like, Can you take that and work it into a win somehow, and build on from that, that that that creates that creates that. So
That’s beautiful. Well, Anne I know you got a call coming up shortly. So I want to make sure I get you out on time here. We could chat for like three hours. But I have a final question for you. I do want to mention something just really briefly on the whole gift thing because I’ve got on my desk here for everyone watching a little coaster that has my logo and stuff. This is, I think, a prime example of a gift from one of my colleagues. I was on his podcast, my buddy James Rose, who has a podcast called Agency Highway, and he sent me this little gift. Now, if you’re a web designer, and you send something like that, it really is a great way to stay top of mind because I use it every day. And I unintentionally think about James almost every day in his brand because I set my cup on my little coffee, my my you know, my my little my little gift he gave me so my little coaster, something like that I want that’s kind of my challenge for everybody. Try some sort of gift like that to your best clients and see where it goes. And it may take a little bit of time. But something like that really is super valuable. I’m sure there’s a whole nother episode we could do on gifts. But I do have one final question for you. And before we do though, before we get to that, where would you like my audience to go check out that do you want them to go to your website? Maybe LinkedIn, a certain social media outlet? Where would you like my audience to find out more about you?
I’m always happy to help any budding entrepreneur it’s part of like my mission in my work is to help specifically female they have a soft spot and are non binary community. But males Of course, I’m always happy to help as well. So this is actually LinkedIn. So if you google Anne Kanopi LinkedIn, it’s can OPI you’ll find me right away and do a connection request. This is a great way for you to network with me if you want small projects. Reach out to me with an authentic message that says, You know, I heard you on Josh Hall podcast, I’d love to connect, learn more about how you know we can support each other’s business, whatever you want to say like some authentic message. I’ll be there for you and I’d love to chat. And then of course, if you wanted to check out our website, it’s Kanopi kanopi.com watch out for a reimagine coming soon on excited.
Well, I think it’s beautiful sight now, but I’m excited to see what you guys do. I’ll put the connecting with you on LinkedIn as kind of the main call to action on the show notes. We’ve got a lot of great show notes for this one we’ve got Sam Scott Sambucci website will will link to we’ve got some awesome books that we talked about that I’ll link to, I’m going to read never lose a customer again, I’m excited about checking that out. So final question for you and talk to the introvert really quick. What would you recommend the introvert web designer who is running their business and is just scared about sales? Would you have one maybe tip or advice for for somebody who or maybe not even just an intern, but somebody who’s just nervous about sales? Because it seems daunting? What would be your one bit of advice for them?
Okay, I think what you said was really skillful that it’s to serve not to sell, like honestly, like I don’t sell, I work to help clients and if they’re not a good fit, you know, it’s okay. I think for the introvert The biggest thing is to be if you’re going to have a discussion or something like that just give you enough time to prepare yourself. I feel like there’s a good COVID has opened up the ability to do things online and I feel it’s a really good space where if you wanted to start creating content, and that’s one of your business development tactics, that’s a great place to start. Do you know snack size content snippets, right? Just hey, here’s a little helpful hint, I’m gonna do a little video screencast and build a build a list by just kind of going into like a really great place to network is cinch them up like WordPress meetups. Okay,
They’re all online right now. And they all have slack chats, right, so you can join a slack chat. The very safe place is that as an introvert so you can kind of reach out asynchronously. But what they have is a lot of them have an app that we use at work called coffee and donuts that pairs you with random people, and you set up for like a 10 minute coffee in the community. And kind of just meeting other people in the WordPress community through these donut chats at WordPress meetup events is a nice safe space where you’re kind of randomly paired with somebody, you’re not having to go find them. And it’s a one to one interaction. I feel like introverts another great book is called quiet the secret power of introverts, which was really great for me as an extrovert to read to support the introverts in my life, one of my can opions Jason’s divino came in gave me this book when I read like your day to read this, because 80% of Canadians are introverts or ambivert, since you said like having that middle middle of the way. But that’s really, if you want it to go like as a as a place just to meet other WordPress people, which often have projects to exchange which often have people they might know, they might know talent, right? Again, it’s lots of different ways to meet people. But as if you’re kind of like that solo WordPress person, those meetup spaces are phenomenal just to have that asynchronous chat.
Now we’re getting into psychology, but I had heard recently that the term introverts and extroverts was actually coined more recently, and that everyone has a bit of introversion or extroversion, depending on what situation you’re in, which makes total sense. I’ve seen people being really shy, but if they’re comfortable with who they’re around, they’re like a completely different person. So that makes a lot of sense to whoops. We’ll save that one for the next podcast. We’ll talk about introverts versus extroverts and we’ll see where that goes. Anne, thanks so much for coming on. Again. I told you we’d keep this under an hour. I should have known that was a white lie, cuz we could chat forever. So thanks again for some awesome tips on sales and pulling the curtain back on what you guys have done, and I’m sure this won’t be the last one.
Sounds good. Thanks, Josh. See ya soon.
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